Author: What's Next?

It seems I may not be ready to stop after writing a second, more technical, volume for Left Brains ....

Having always identified as an engineer rather than a writer or teacher, I never until recently imagined I might want to write more than one book. But perspective shows that engineering involves a great deal of writing and teaching, and the harder you work at improving both skills the better. Writing a book, it turns out, begets a lust to write another, even on a significantly different subject. How benign a form of addiction is that?

The habit of analyzing complex systems is persistent, and a rigorous and thorough approach to it is definitely career-enhancing. In retirement, suddenly it becomes a rare thing to be asked to take on a new system, with the result that one looks around widely, not just in one's lifelong field, for suitable targets.

At DASC, I began by bringing Lessons Learned from prior decades, but discovered an additional proclivity for analyzing possible future systems, with the happy result that concludes my DASC page. Some people's approach to the future is to attempt prediction, which generates a frisson akin to that of gambling. Others prefer to build prescriptive political platforms, hoping to become leaders. My approach could be called contingency engineering to cope with possible cultural futures, by analogy to military preparation of contingency plans for possible future wars.

For DASC papers, I became fascinated by what sorts of engineering efforts might answer the possibility of a radical escalation of response to global warming, for example outlawing the use of any fossil fuel for civilian aircraft. I don't predict whether or when that will happen, nor do I plead for it to be enacted. I just want to get the engineering started for the possibility, to avoid starting too late.

As an undergraduate I hated the study of economics, but now I can imagine possibilities within this century of profound changes in the way the global economy works, not due to anyone's political platform but due to a confluence of multi-disciplinary trends. If I am able to make a second book, on contingency engineering at this level, it probably will not contain designs much advanced but will identify some requirements questions that I think will occupy vast numbers of the world's best minds.